Evidence Based

Trivex Eyeglass Lenses

What Are Trivex Eyeglass Lenses?

In 2001, PPG Industries created a new purpose for a breakthrough plastic technology called Trivex. The urethane-based pre-polymer substance would come to offer three primary benefits for eyeglass lenses, including: 

  • Exceptional optical clarity
  • High-performance strength
  • Ultra-lightweight comfort

While other types of lens material like polycarbonate (impact-resistant, transparent plastic), high-index (thinner, lighter plastic), and glass exist, Trivex has proven to be an excellent choice for optical lenses. 

In the United States, the use of Trivex as ophthalmic lens material has grown in popularity. Lenses made from Trivex material fulfill the same safety standards as those made from polycarbonate. However, because of Trivex’s manufacturing process, plastic lenses sporting Trivex material do not distort vision as much.

Icon of a pair of glasses

Trivex Lens Material vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate and Trivex are common lens materials used for children’s eyewear, safety glasses, and sports eyewear. Opticians recommend these types of plastics because of their UV protection and high-impact resistance. 

Both polycarbonate and Trivex are lightweight. This particular characteristic works well with rimless frames or drill mount eyewear. 

Nevertheless, there are differences that can make Trivex a preferable option.

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Lenses made from Trivex boasts a high Abbe value of 43 to 45. Polycarbonate, however, has an Abbe value of 30. The Abbe value is important because it measures chromatic aberration (light dispersed through a lens into its color elements). Depending on the degree of chromatic aberration, images viewed through eyewear may appear more or less distorted. 

That said, the higher the Abbe value, the lower the chromatic aberration and the higher the likelihood of visual clarity. Trivex, when compared to polycarbonate, works better.

Trivex is also much more resistant to chemicals than polycarbonate. For example, Trivex did not experience any change in weight, diameter, or clarity when submerged in containers of chemicals like acetone (a volatile, flammable liquid) for 10 days. On the other hand, polycarbonate had a solid white appearance. 

Trivex has been shown to be resistant to household products like bleach, salt water, window glass cleaner, sun tan cream, and nail polish remover. 

Lastly, Trivex has a lower specific gravity (1.11) to that of polycarbonate (1.66).  Specific gravity describes the ratio of density of any given material to that of a reference substance. In effect, a lower value means that the material-at-hand is less dense, i.e. more lightweight.  Trivex, in this case, is one of the lightest materials used for lenses. 

Advantages of Trivex Lenses

Due to its composition and design, Trivex lenses offers many benefits, including:

  • High impact resistance. This particular feature promises safety and minimizes the risk of injury among those who have active lifestyles. 
  • Lightweight comfort. Trivex has a lower density ratio than other standard plastics, making this substance one of the lighter materials used for lenses. For older individuals, lenses with this characteristic can be extremely important. When the skin on the bridge of the nose becomes finer and more sensitive, lightweight eyewear can decrease the likelihood of irritation.  
  • Thinness. With aspheric and atoric lens designs (flatter lens curves), Trivex enhances comfort because it has a slimmer profile. 
  • Scratch protection. Those who want to avoid scratches on their eyewear can ask for an anti-scratch coating on this type of plastic material.  
  • Optical clarity. Trivex has a high Abbe value that offers clean, sharp vision. This can be more important for those whose prescription powers are stronger but who don’t want to sacrifice visual clarity. 
  • Wider, more natural vision. Aspheric and atoric lens designs reduce unwanted magnification and minification (objects appear smaller) found in more traditional eyewear. These types of design also increase the peripheral view by getting rid of distortion.  
  • UV protection. Lenses made from Trivex provide 100% UV protection from both UV-A and UV-B radiation. 
  • No internal stress. Unlike most polycarbonate lenses, Trivex lenses are internally stress-free. This means that such lenses have a lower chance of breaking when under pressure, like from thick frames.  
  • Shape retention. Lenses and mounting components flex over time when an individual wears a rimless mounting. This can lead to loose lenses and the need for replacements. However, because Trivex material is durable and strong, the shape does not change.   
  • Chemical resistance. Trivex is resistant to many chemicals, including acetone. It performs better in chemical resistance than some of its other competitors. 

Finally, Trivex can undergo a host of surface treatments, including anti-reflective, hard coatings, and tinting. This aspect makes Trivex an excellent option for sunglasses, too. 

Disadvantages of Trivex Lenses 

Although Trivex lenses provide an almost endless list of advantages, there are some downsides. These disadvantages are as follows:

  • Less availability. Polycarbonate is more common in different lens designs than Trivex. 
  • Not enough thinness. Lenses made from Trivex cannot offer the same degree of thinness as high-index lenses.  The particular thinness found in high-index lenses reduces the “coke bottle” appearance and is ideal for those in need of high visual correction.
  • High costs. Trivex outperforms many other lens material alternatives. However, it can come at a cost. Between coatings and type of eyewear, Trivex lenses can become expensive.
Icon of a hand holding money

How Much Do Trivex Lenses Cost?

More than a decade has passed since the introduction of Trivex into the optical market. This means that the product is more common and costs have gone down slightly. 

Yet, because Trivex lenses have many strong attributes, costs can range between 200 and 400 dollars. Factors that may influence the final price are:

  • Single vision or progressive lenses.  Progressive lenses can increase the price, because they offer a more gradual modification in lens strength for clearer vision at any distance. 
  • Additional coatings. Anti-scratch or anti-reflective coatings can raise costs as well. Fortunately, because Trivex has inherent UV protection, there is no need to pay for a UV coating.  
  • Different mounting frames. Rimless frames tend to be more expensive than full-frame glasses.

If you’re considering purchasing new eyewear and are interested in Trivex, it is recommended to speak to your eye care specialist for additional information. Not all eyeglass lenses are the same and your eye care specialist will be able to find the most suitable option for your individual needs.

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Author: Anthony Armenta | UPDATED July 28, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON July 22, 2020

“How to Choose Eyeglasses for Vision Correction.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 27 June 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/glasses.

“How to Get the Best Eyeglass Lenses.” Consumer Reports, 2016, www.consumerreports.org/eyeglass-stores/how-to-get-the-best-eyeglass-lenses/.

“Optical Monomers and Coatings.” PPG Optical Products, www.ppgoptical.com/Optical-Materials/Trivex-lens-material.aspx.

PPG Optical Materials. “Trivex User's Guide.” 2006.

Taylor, Rebecca J, et al. “Tips for Choosing the Right Eyeglasses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2 July 2019, www.aao.org/salud-ocular/consejos/tips-choosing-right-eyeglasses.